X-Drive Carbon - Racing Genoa

X-Drive carbon racing genoa on a Tripp 37.

Close up of carbon X-Drive sail made with a black aramid laminate. Without a taffeta layer, the sail is see through.

Carbon fiber is the highest performance yarn used in sailmaking. As seen below, carbon yarns are at the top of the chart in three out of four ways to measure their performance.  Carbon fiber’s resistance to stretch is three times greater that S-Glass yarns, which are three times more stretch resistant than polyester yarns.

A Half Tonner with X-Drive carbon sails.

Detail showing the extensive coverage of tapes radiating out of the tack of an X-Drive genoa. For extra durability, the base laminate of the sail has a polyester taffeta on the side opposite the tapes. This adds chafe-resistance, but does make the sail heavier.

Even though the individual tapes in an X-Drive sail are very narrow, their almost complete coverage of the sail leads to a smooth flying shape. UK Sailmakers’ tape laying machine puts down up to 11 tapes at a time in a 20 cm wide path (8 inches wide), which means there are hundreds of tapes on the sail (see the picture of a working jib tack to the right). Since each tape has 4,000 carbon filaments there are up to 44,000 filaments of carbon are laid at time, giving the sail great strength along with the ability to keep its designed shape without distortion. This means UK Sailmakers can use lighter and less expensive laminates than would be used in Tape-Drive sails and these savings are passed on.

All the carbon yarns used in X-Drive tapes are dry (not coated in glue) which keeps them from becoming brittle. Keeping the carbon yarns dry improves their flexibility.

An X-Drive carbon roller-furling racing genoa on an Arcona 465. The carbon tapes are on a black aramid laminate giving the sail an all black look.

Extra Durability With Taffeta

To help protect today’s sails and extend their peak performance lives, UK Sailmakers can build all our X-Drive racing sails where one or both sides of the laminate is fully covered with a lightweight finely-woven polyester taffeta. Not only does taffeta protect the film layer from abrasion, but it also prevents cracking of the film and reduces creasing. While taffeta doesn't add any strength, it does make sails last longer. We also offer the option of putting a layer of taffeta over the X-Drive tapes only on the leech of the sail as shown below.

Partial Taffeta Options

GenoasPartialTaffeta.jpg

The leech of any sail benefits from having extra taffeta protection; when a sail luffs, the leech is the area most exposed to flogging, abrasion, and potential damage. This is particularly the case for boats with overlapping genoas that get dragged across shrouds and the mast in every tack. 

UK Sailmakers will work with you to determine the right amount of taffeta to add to your sails based on your boat, the kinds of sailing you do, and your budget. Having both sides covered with taffeta makes a sail more durable, but also would make the sail heavier. UK Sailmakers offers a Partial Taffeta option to save weight and cost.

Taffeta comes in white or grey.

  Partial taffeta on the leech of a vertical-batten jib. Even though this sail does not overlap the mast, the taffeta reinforces the area of the sail that gets whipped around the most when the sail luffs.

Partial taffeta on the leech of a vertical-batten jib. Even though this sail does not overlap the mast, the taffeta reinforces the area of the sail that gets whipped around the most when the sail luffs.

The S97 HEJIRA sailing with a Titanium mainsail and an X-Drive genoa made with a partial taffeta layer over the portion of the leech that overlaps the mast.

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